A Local non-governmental organisation, African Innovation Trust (AIT) — developers of an anti-corruption mobile application ICU “I See You” — believes locals have embraced technology as a way of tackling society issues.
By Tonderai Ndemera
AIT was founded on the premise of growing the technology edge in the mainstream way of life and recently introduced a mobile application that is part of a cocktail of innovative ways of tackling corruption in the country.
In its fight against corruption, AIT has come up with a multi-pronged strategy that includes a clean-up campaign running under the banner Corruption-PFee Mubin.
Zimbabwe is the 160 least corrupt nation out of 175 countries, according to the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by Transparency International.
Corruption Rank in Zimbabwe averaged 123,48 from 1998 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 166 in 2008 and a record low of 43 in 1998.
According to AIT programmes officer Taurai Mafundikwa, the mobile application ICU on Android, iOS, and Windows devices, downloaded ”free“, allows the public to report via text, image, audio and video on corruption.
Mafundikwa told Standard Style that citizens had embraced the mobile application although he noted challenges.
“The hunger is there and reports are coming in. Most of our upgrades and programmes are guided by experiences and input of the public,” Mafundikwa said.
“However, citizens have expressed displeasure on having to sign up and we are addressing that. The ICU application functions like WhatsApp, which you download free of charge, but data charges apply for uploading content.”
With mobile technology and applications being utilised to harness data and gain faster insights coupled with the country’s increasing smartphone penetration, Mafundikwa believes ICU can do wonders although citizens seem to concede to have lost the battle against corruption.
“The major challenge is that some people have lost hope in the system and public officials. However, this is why we need to keep having conversations among citizens in the fight against corruption,” he said.
Mafundikwa said one of the major concerns they picked from ICU were reports of corruption on the disbursement of aid, especially through the Social Welfare department.
“The most prominent results on ICU is the issue of government aid under various social welfare programmes misdirected due to corruption. Additional transaction costs on mobile money transactions and the issue of policemen and village heads abusing power to squash reported cases of crime feature prominently on the application,” he said.
“In this regard of this, AIT has initiated contact with the Ministry of Public Service and Social Welfare department. One person also commented that the aid government was disbursing was not reaching the needy and vulnerable as in some instances, they are forced the buy it.”
Mafundikwa was optimistic that Zimbabweans would embrace the anti-corruption mobile application considering the phenomenal growth in smartphone penetration in the country.